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Clinton: Blocking Humanitarian Aid “New Low” for Syria's Assad

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the media during a joint news conference with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski at the State Department in Washington, March 7, 2012
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addresses the media during a joint news conference with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski at the State Department in Washington, March 7, 2012

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's efforts to block humanitarian relief supplies for civilians represents a “new low” in campaign of violence against his political opponents.

Secretary Clinton said the Syrian people continue to endure a “brutal and relentless assault” at the hands of the government in Damascus.

"The regime's refusal to allow humanitarian workers to help feed the hungry, tend to the injured, bury the dead, marks a new low," said Clinton. "Tons of food and medicine are standing by while more civilians die and the regime launches new assaults. This is unacceptable.”

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos is in Syria, where she held talks with foreign ministry officials and traveled to the battered city of Homs to push for unhindered access to those in need.

Turkey is calling for humanitarian aid corridors, saying the Syrian government's repression of a year-long uprising has “started to resemble an inhumane savagery.”

Following talks with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski at the State Department, Secretary Clinton again called on President Assad's domestic and international supporters  to abandon him.

“It is past time for all Syrians to break with Assad and stand against this bloodshed and for a better future," said Clinton "It is also past time for those nations that continue to arm and support the regime to bring an end to the bloodshed.”

Russia and China are blocking United Nations action against Damascus, in part, because they say it could be a precursor to a Libyan-style military engagement. Russia continues to supply weapons to the Syrian army.

Clinton said she spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday and that she will press him on Syria again in New York next week. She said the Obama administration believes that Moscow should join the international community in playing a positive role to end the bloodshed and help create conditions for a peaceful, democratic transition.

President Assad says Syria is fighting “foreign-backed terrorism.”  The state-run news agency said he told a delegation of Ukrainian lawmakers on Tuesday that the results of last month's constitutional referendum show the determination of the Syrian people to pursue reforms and “build a new Syria.”

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